It has been a practice at LIRNEasia to write an assessment of the responses to potentially tsunamigenic events in the region. We commented on Nias and Pangandaran. Now that the discussion on the response is starting, here is our take: Lessons from the Sri Lanka tsunami warnings and evacuation of September 12-13, 2007 The tragedy of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami was the absence of any official warning. The September 12th Bengkulu earthquake shows that this is unlikely to be the case in the future. We have seen that the new institutions created since the 2004 tsunami have the will and the capacity to act.
The Secretary of the Ministry of Disaster Management and Human Rights, Mr P. D. Amarasinghe joined LIRNEasia on a visit to Mirissa South, one of the best performing villages in the HazInfo Last-Mile project on 11 September 2007. The visit was organized by the Sarvodaya Community Based Disaster Management Center. The Matara District Sarvodaya Office and the Mirissa Sarvodaya Society hosted us.
By Rohan Samarajiva The findings of a pilot project on learning how information-communication technologies and community-based training can help in responding to disasters such as tsunamis were discussed by community leaders and international experts at a workshop on “SHARING KNOWLEDGE ON DISASTER WARNING, WITH A FOCUS ON COMMUNITY-BASED LAST–MILE WARNING SYSTEMS” held on March 28th and 29th, 2007 at the Sarvodaya headquarters in Moratuwa. These finding ranged from the difficulties experienced in communicating disaster warnings to villages when mobile GSM and fixed CDMA telecom networks were not functional due to conflict conditions to the importance of not leaving newspapers on top of sensitive electronic equipment which can overheat and shut down as a result. In terms of the five communication technologies that were evaluated across multiple criteria, the addressable satellite radio sets and the java-enabled mobile phones performed the best, with the GSM-based community warning device developed locally by Dialog Telekom, MicroImage and University of Moratuwa following closely. The VSAT based warning system did not perform too well in the tests. The objective was not to declare a winner among the technologies, but to find out how they could be improved to perform reliably in the difficult conditions of Sri […]
LIRNEasia in partnership with Sarvodaya, is organizing the concluding events of “Evaluating Last-Mile Hazard Information Dissemination Research Project” in Moratuwa, Sri Lanka on 28-29 March 2007. This “Last-Mile” project reflects Sarvodaya and LIRNEasia’s shared objective of evaluating the suitability of information communication technology (ICT) in the last mile of a national disaster warning system for Sri Lanka and possible extension to other developing countries. A major part of the concluding events is the forum entitled, “Sharing knowledge on disaster warning, with a focus on community-based last-mile warning systems”, which will be held on 28-29 March 2007 at the Sarvodaya Damsak Mandiraya (Sarvodaya Main Campus) in Moratuwa. The conference intends to bring together knowledge from the South Asia Region to Sarvodaya for a forum on practical solutions for communicating risk information to rural communities. The events also include a Media Conference on 30 March 2007.
By Nuwan Waidyanatha The Hazard Information Hub (HIH), operated by Sarvodaya as part of the Last-Mile Hazard Information Dissemination Project (HazInfo) to disseminate Common Alerting Protocol (CAP) risk information to the villages in Sri Lanka, monitored the recent tsunami drills conducted in the Pacific by the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center in the USA. The HazInfo project initiated by LIRNEasia, is a multipartner initiative aimed at tackling the “last-mile” challenges in developing an all-hazards approach to disaster management and mitigation.
The first phase of the Last-Mile Hazard Information Dissemination (HazInfo) project funded by IDRC, was completed recently with the training of trainer component. LIRNEasia is implementing this project along with its project partners Sarvodaya, the largest community organization in Sri Lanka and TVE Asia Pacific (TVEAP), a non-profit media organization working in the Asian region. LIRNEasia has undertaken a number of initiatives in the area of ICTs disasters and early warning post the Indian Ocean tsunami disaster of 2004. However, this is by far the largest project undertaken LIRNEasia in this area to evaluate the suitability of a number of ICTs (information and communication technologies) deployed in varied conditions for their effectiveness in the last-mile of a hazard warning system.
The Webhamuva Project was showcased at the World Bank’s launch of the Small Grants Program (SGP) 2006 in Sri Lanka on April 6, 2006, as an example of the previous year’s funding under the same program. www.webhamuva.org was launched last year to ensure that the voices of the tsunami affected were heard widely and their interests and input were taken into consideration during the reconstruction and rehabilitation phase. Divakar Goswami, Director of Organizational Development and Projects at LIRNEasia made a presentation on the project and highlighted some of the findings.
LIRNEasia in collaboration with The Vanguard Foundation, Sri Lanka National Committee on Large Dams (SLNCOLD), Intermediate Technology Development Group (ITDG) and Sarvodaya has released A Concept Paper for a Dam-related Hazard Warning System in Sri Lanka: A Participatory Study on Actions Required to Avoid and Mitigate Dam Disasters. This work was funded by The Canada Fund for Local Initiatives. The Concept Paper (version 2.0) and Annexes can be downloaded by following the links: Dam Safety Concept Paper (version 2.0) Dam Safety – Annexes
As part of our partnership with Sarvodaya on using ICTs for disaster management, LIRNEasia is managing www.webhamuva.org. The excerpt below is from the Daily Mirror of 10th January 2006(www.dailymirror.
LIRNEasia is undertaking a project to provide disaster mitigation training and last-mile connectivity to tsunami-affected villages along the coast of Sri Lanka. The effectiveness of training and five different ICT technologies that will be deployed will be assessed with a view of rolling out the most successful strategies and technologies in 226 tsunami-affected Sarvodaya villages. This IDRC funded project is partnered with Sarvodaya, Vanguard Foundation, Dr. Gordon Gow, LSE, UK, TVE Asia Pacific, Sri Lanka and the Community Tsunami Early-Warning Center (CTEC) at Peraliya. In the aftermath of the Indian Ocean tsunami of December 2004, it was evident that if Sri Lanka along with the other affected countries had an effective disaster warning system in place, many lives could have been saved.
A Press Conference has been organized by LIRNEasia and Vanguard Foundation, in collaboration with Sarvodaya, the Sri Lanka National Committee of Large Dams and ITDG South Asia to present an interim concept paper on an Early Warning System for Dam Related Hazards. It was held on August 10, 2005 at the Auditorium, Sri Lanka Foundation Institute. The concept paper was developed in consultation with local and international dam experts. Community meetings were held in three Sri Lankan cities that lie significantly in the flood path of the Mahaweli dam system, Kandy, Gampola, and Polonnaruwa. The purpose of these meetings was to raise awareness of on dam safety issues and to receive input from this most important set of stakeholders.
LIRNEasia and Vanguard Foundation conducted a third community meeting in Polonnaruwa on July 16. Together with speakers representing project partners ITDG, Sarvodaya, and the Vanguard Foudation, Rohan Samarajiva and Luxman Siriwardena presented Kantale: 19 years later, a documentary on the survivors of the 1986 Kantale dam breach and LIRNEasia‘s concept paper. The format of the meeting followed that of the earlier Kandy and Gampola meetings, with several presentations on different aspects of disaster response, community organization, and dam management, and extended question/comment sessions for public input. The Polonnaruwa meeting, held at the Sarvodaya district office, was long and lively, with a diverse crowd of participants offering insightful input and illuminating commentaries. Local farmers’ organizations and Sarvodaya-Polonnaruwa officers were especially well-represented.
Public Consultation on Early Warning System for Dam Related Hazards and Safety On 2 July LIRNEasia, in partnership with the Vanguard Foudation, ITDG, and Sarvodaya, conducted community meetings in Kandy and Gampola to present the interim Concept Paper for a Dam-related Hazard Warning System in Sri Lanka and consult with the public on the local and regional disaster response history . These meetings included a screening of LIRNEasia‘s documentary on the 1986 Kantale dam disaster, with accounts from survivors and information on the current status of hazard precautions. Sarvodaya officers spoke about their organization’s role in rehabilitating affected populations in Kantale and outlined a framework for the several represented groups to collaborate on the project at hand. Rohan Samarajiva gave a detailed overview of the concept paper (now available for comments below) developed by LIRNEasia. Each presentation was followed by a session for audience questions and comments.
Dear friends, well-wishers and partners of LIRNEasia, all members of the LIRNEasia team based in Colombo are safe. Despite the devastation wrought by the tsunami over most of coastal Sri Lanka on Dec 26, our office is functioning. Sarvodaya is grass-roots organization that has been around for 47 years and is doing an incredible job of getting relief to the tsunami victims. They have an extensive network of volunteers and stations in 34 Sri Lankan towns, including the most heavily damaged. Although they are busy providing temporary shelters, drinking water, food and medicine to tsunami victims, they are also gearing up for medium and long-term rehabilitation that includes reconstructing homes, providing trauma counselling, preventing outbreak of disease and providing a home to the orphaned children.